Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year Blues (and Purples)

Fear not! This isn't going to be a melancholy reflection on the passing of time or the adversities we've faced this year. Matter of fact, I'm feeling incredibly positive about all that 2012 could bring, not least with all the creative opportunities already on the horizon. This makes me especially grateful to the lovely friend who gave me this Nicky McClure Journal- and sent me a text to say yes I blooming well should write in it, however beautiful the illustrations in it are. So I took a deep breath and made my first jotting in the Make section- there are also sections entitled Plan, Wish, Dream, Build, Explore, Learn, Grow, Give and Find. I feel determined to live up to them all.

True to form, my hands haven't been idle over the Christmas break. I've been revelling in the beautiful deep blue, pink and purple tones of some Bowland DK by Eden Cottage Yarns. I can't say much more about the project as it's another design destined for publication (yay!) but I can say that it was the colour that originally inspired me, and that it continues to do so.

Finally, onto the big blue. My folks just went on a big trip to South America and because they are fabulous to their yarn-obsessed daughter, they found room in their suitcase to bring back this bundle of bright blue yarn from Uraguay. There's 250g of thick and thin, bulky weight pure wool here, which has to make it one of the best holiday presents around. I haven't worked out what I'll make with it yet- all suggestions gratefully recieved. For one reason and another I'm not really into the idea of a scarf or hat, so I'm wondering about maybe some sort of shrug or vest. Ah, shucks, an excuse to wander along the by-ways of Ravlery, what a hardship!
Wishing you all a Happy New Year- here's to a creative and prosperous times ahead.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sparkle and Shine

Hmm. Now I recently promised that this blog would be more knit-focussed. But then, I also said (to myself) that this year I wouldn't be doing Christmas knitting as I didn't have enough time and didn't want to spend the run-up frantically trying to finish projects. Read on and you'll see that a lady (ahem!) is allowed to change her mind. Be assured though, that this non-woolly diversion is a blip and that I'll be back to all things yarny soon. Fact is, I am inordinately proud of my Christmas cake and I wanted to share it here, although also slightly worried that I may have overdone 'feeding' it with sherry for the past month- it could well have quite a kick!

While I promised myself no Christmas knitting, I did persuade myself that making tutus as suggested in Oliver + S's Little Things To Sew would be a good way to take care of the half dozen little girls we need to give Christmas presents to. It was...sort of. Suffice to say, wrestling one bundle of tulle into a tutu is bearable, wrestling six is a bit more trying. Once finished and viewed with fresh eyes after a much needed night's sleep, they do have a certain seasonal magic, and I'm hoping the recipients will have lots of whirly, dancing fun in them.

And the Christmas knitting? Well, one is still a WIP- sigh!- for a little girl whom I think is a bit too small appreciate a tutu just yet. The other, shown above, is as much an indulgence for me as for my little M. I persuaded myself to buy the velvet dress by identifying at least three occasions in the coming weeks when she can wear it, and once bought it was just crying out for the sort of little fluffy white cardigan I remember from my own childhood party outfits. It's another Tiny Tealeaves, made slightly shorter and with just one button to suit the A-line of the dress. The yarn is King Cole Galaxy DK in Saturn which was on at a reduced price at Deramores. This is an acrylic wool mix with sequins that are very pretty, if slightly irritating to knit with (I like my yarn smooth). It's very soft and has a enough of a halo to give it that luxurious look. Surprisingly, when knitted up the sequins don't feel scratchy, which is a bonus despite the fact that M won't be wearing this against her skin.
With an alarming list of Christmas baking, shopping and wrapping to do, not to mention that last-minute bit of knitting, this will probably be the last of me until the other side of the festive weekend. So until then, may your holiday be full of sparkle and shine, and all your yuletide knitting be completed on time. Happy Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Make Do and Mend for Woolsack

Photograph from Knit Now magazine

UPDATED: Jan 17th Yikes! In my hurry to get this ready for Woolsack I managed to include a number of howlers in the pdf. The link below now should take you to a (hopefully) more correct version. Sorry to anyone who's been struggling with the previous version.

You may not think that there's much about the London 2012 Games that's going to have anything to do with knitters. This may be because you haven't heard of Woolsack,which has been granted the Inspire mark and is part of the Cultural Olympiad.

The aim of the project is to encourage people- from schools and colleges, community and craft groups, smallholders and farmers, British Wool yarn producers, spinners, dyers and individuals to help to make cushions using British wool, which will then be given as welcome gifts from the people of Britain to the visiting Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

It is hoped that making the cushions will help people gain craft skills and also to learn about the production of British Wool, on which the British economy and early industry were originally founded. In this way a wide range of people can be inspired by the 2012 Games, even if not everyone is able to participate directly in sports and athletics.

The cushions are all to be 40cm square, made from British wool yarn and be suitable for stuffing with more pure British sheep's wool before being sewn up- the latter part of this process will happen at 'stuffing events' which participants can either attend or send their cushions to be completed at. Special labels will be attached, along with any personal messages from the makers. The completed cushions will then be offered to the athletes, with any that are left over being donated to charities.

It's a fascinating project that can only raise the profile of the British wool industry, so I was really happy to be asked to help out by modifying my Make Do and Mend pattern so that it will work as a Woolsack cushion. It's available as a PDF for those wishing to contribute to the project, while further details and links to other pattern1s can be found at UPDATE: 1st May 2012. This pattern is no longer available as a free download, but will shortly be available for sale as a full version in my Ravelry Shop.

PS Just to say that the original version of the pattern was published in Knit Now and the rights remain with them at the moment. They've given permission for me to reproduce it in this form to support the Woolsack project, so please only download the pattern if that's what you want to use it for. If you're keen to make one for another purpose, back issues of the magazine are available through Practical Publishing and after the Spring deadline for Woolsack, I'll be making the original version of the pattern available through Ravelry. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Colour Pop Snood

So here it is, my second pattern to make it into print! Appearing in Issue 3 of Knit Now magazine- out later this week, and with previews on Ravelry here, this is the Colour Pop Snood.
While the design turns out to be totally on the button for the grim weather we're having just now, the inspiration for it came way back in those far off days of summer. I spent a few days down in London and found splashes of vivid colour amongst the city greys, which I wrote about here. I knew that I'd appreciate the energy and warming effect of a 'pop' of colour when the grey skies descended. This was the result.

The idea of the oversized snood came from one I made for my younger sister a few years ago, when she coveted, but couldn't afford, those on the Burberry catwalk. Being able to have great neck coverage without the weight or trailing ends of a thick scarf was a bit of a revelation for me, so I went for similar chunky cabling in this design.
It would actually make a good project to begin with if you wanted to try cabling, as there's no shaping to contend with- it's basically a long rectangle knitted flat, then grafted together to form the snood.
The yarn is Artesano Aran in Meadie, which is a gorgeous purple/blue shade hard to do justice to with either photos or words. Sometimes it looks like a real 'royal' blue, other times it's like the purple of my favourite chocolate brand wrapping. Whatever you want to call it, it's a fabulous shade and the yarn is super-warm without feeling too heavy, even in chunky cables. So far it's yet to show signs of pilling, although this sort of garment doesn't get the pill-causing friction other might I suppose, and as the pattern is knit quite a tight gauge, it doesn't seem to get saggy, maintaining its height and keeping those winter chills out.
Here's hoping that lots of people like it enough to buy the magazine, so we can enjoy colour pops all over the place this winter.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Of mittens and gussets...

Behold! You see before you my first forays into the art of mittenry (is that even a word? If not, it should be). I'd made mittens and gloves before, with varying levels of success. Ysolda Teague's Snapdragon flip top mittens nearly broke me, I found the combination of cabling, working in the round and adding the thumb in so hard. In the event I finished one on about my fifth attempt, then had to wait a whole, cold fingered year before I could face tackling the second one. I had a few other pairs of simpler gloves and mittens under my belt but had never thought about designing them.
When I did come to making up my own mitten patterns the main psychological block was the 'thumb gusset'. Just the sound of it, with its undertones of old-fashioned, no-nonsense technical efficiency filled my self-taught heart with fear. I am in no way a technician, either when it comes to knitting or design, and was sure I'd make a mess of it.
A bit of research into other patterns though and I got a handle on it- apologies if you know all this already, but here's what I learned: Essentially a thumb gusset is a few stitches you reserve between the front and the back of the mitten, from which you 'grow' your thumb. The front of the mitten needs to be slightly narrower than the back in order that your thumb gusset sits slightly forward on the mitten for a better fit. At the appropriate point you increase stitches at the start and end of your thumb gusset so that the mitten gets wider to accomodate where the lower knuckle of the thumb sticks out. When you reach the base of the thumb you separate off your gusset, knit it up to thumb length, sew it up, rejoin the front and back and carry on up the mitten, sighing with relief that you have tackled the gusset.
Anyway, once I'd done it the first time- including managing to make the ribbing on the cuff flow smoothly into the main part of the hand- I could see how much potential there was for the fun-sized spaces of the front and back of mittens, and another pair found its way onto the sketchpad.
Great Oaks From Little Acorns Grow,shown above, and Treacle Toffee, below, are sneak previews of patterns I'm hoping to tell you more about soon. The green yarn is from Blacker Yarns. It's their Pure Dyed British Wool, which was out of stock on the site last time I checked, but they have other, very similar options. I think I've mentioned the orange yarn before: Maya DK from Eden Cottage Yarns. This one was in stock last time I looked, but beware, once you visit you'll find it very hard to resist the sweetshop of heavenly colours that Vikki creates!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pattern Development

The thing about knitting is that there are so many avenues to explore. I have only had the briefest of brushes with spinning, for example, dabbled a little with machine and wet felting but never tried dyeing. I've experimented with a number of different techniques and things to knit, but still have an extensive list of 'must try' possibilities.
The danger, with only so many hours in the day and the reality of having life and family beyond the sticks and string, is that new avenues of investigation distract you from actually knitting. This has certainly been the case for me since I caught the designing bug. I'm knitting or doing knitterly things for at least a few hours every day, but since most of the time this involves sketching, swatching, writing up submission proposals and patterns or making samples I end up with little that I can show here. In addition, I have cold feet and am perfectly capable of making the felted slippers I've been wanting for ages, but never seem to find the time for making them.
I'm not really complaining though, as having yarn support (free yarn! Even if you do have to knit it up then send it away again) dropping through the door will surely always be a joy and I love puzzling away at new ideas to fit mood boards put out by potential publishers. It's even paying off in slightly less conventional ways, as the colourwork idea here is one I'm developing for a friend in exchange for help with what will hopefully be improvements to my online presence- watch this space.
All this said, I hope to have more projects to show here soon and in the meantime I'm going to put on an extra pair of socks and enjoy the buzz of creativity.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tiny Tea Leaves for a Growing Girl

Is it normal to envy the wardrobe of your toddler daughter? I have to admit to having wished in the past that I could do ditsy prints and stripy tights the way she does and now this Tiny Tea Leaves is bringing on the green eyed monster even more.

It wasn't as if I didn't have enough projects in progress, all of them design development or commission samples. Hell, one of them is even a sweater that's destined for little M whenever I finally get around to it- being a large 'frog and re-do' job it keeps getting bumped for smaller projects with newer and therefore more exciting yarn. But she's outgrown her summer cardigans, and a friend had given me this pattern and I had more than enough Rowan British Sheep Breeds DK in Brown BFL from an idea for a pirate design boys sweater that I have struggled with, frogged and in the end given up on (possibly for good, not least because the boy in our household is resolutely opposed to hand-knitted garments of any kind).

It's a pattern that well deserves its popularity. Easy to follow, even when picked up and put down in favour of other projects or the occasional tokenistic domestic chore, the result is lovely in its simplicity. I can see myself making further versions for her as she gets older, and different yarns could make it anything from a fluffy party dress cover-up to a sensible school cardigan.
As for the yarn, well first of all it's held up remarkably well considering the several times it's been knitted, frogged and re-knitted on its journey from pirate to tea-leaf. The small amount of frog-based kinking that could be seen on some of the stocking stitch parts of the body disappeared without trace with blocking and the finished result is soft and springy. As is so often the case with colours created by Mother Nature herself, it would be hard for a dyer to come up with something better than the warm greyish-brown. The sheep also still makes itself known in the scent, faint but comfortingly present even when the cardigan is dry.

When it came to choosing buttons I could quite easily have gone for the natural options of wood, shell or bone, which would have suited the yarn. I felt that this might make it feel just a little bit too serious for a one-and-a-half year old and that colour was needed instead. These very pale pink ones seemed to have just the right amount of delicate prettiness for a little girl.

I say little, but the smallest size on the pattern is listed as 2T, which in theory should be on the large size for M. I think the yarn used was a bit lighter than the recommended and I have to admit that rather than matching the gauge, I just knit on the right sized needles for the yarn, made the smallest size and hoped for the best. It seemed huge when on the needles and I thought it would end up with a lot of growing room, but it appears my baby has been growing up without me noticing it, and actually the size is perfect for her right this minute. Now I just have to find room on my knitting 'To-do' list to make the grown-up version for me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wovember- in praise of Wool

When it comes to the work of Kate Davies I have to admit to being a bit of a stalker. I love her knits- I've never had a sweater that gets me more compliments than Owls , I more or less live in Manu and a Sheep Heid is on the cards for the near future. More than that though, I love her passion for design and real wool. Is there another type of wool? The more fibre aware among you may well wonder, but as Kate's 'Wovember' campaign highlights, there is an increasing tendency on the High Street and beyond to use and abuse terms like 'wool', 'woollen', 'tweed' and so on whenever it suits the marketing aims and regardless whether the actual fabric content has ever known a sheep.
Kate's blog, which I wanted to mention before November was finished (although Wovember is an ongoing cruade), includes some fascinating, thought provoking and at times anger-inducing information about the role wool has had in the textile industry of the past as well as how it needs to be respected and cherished in the future. Whether you're a knitter or not, I would urge you to visit and read- if nothing else the beautiful photographs of gorgeous designs and Scottish landscapes will soothe and inspire.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pattern Development

You could say that my knitting life has undertaken something of a transformation recently. This time last year I was dipping the tiniest toe in the water of coming up with and sharing my own designs. Since enjoying a small amount of success, I'm a woman possessed and I seem to have projects under development everywhere, from sketches and proposals, to swatches and samples and things that still only exist in my head. Some of them promise much then just don't work out, others change and evolve and end up completely different from the original idea, while others just seem to fly straight away. It's a fascinating and exciting new process for me.

Inspiration has to come first, of course, and it would be hard not to be influenced by the wonders of the late autumn Lake District- the leaves pictured are caught in a beck running down the side of Yewdale, near Coniston. Further inspiration arrived in the post last week, in the form of this glorious 'Autumn' coloured yarn from Eden Cottage Yarns. Eden Cottage is the new name for Wild Fire Fibres, reflecting dyer Vikki's recent move to Cumbria's Eden Valley. The baby alpaca yarn is so very soft and colours speak for themselves really.

A recent charity shop find was the great vintage Paton's design seen above, which I picked up mainly for the interesting stitch pattern. I'm not using it in a sweater as the leaflet shows (although you never know, one day we too may be a family clad in matching jumpers like the ones in the picture!) but have found that it adapts really well to the project I'm working on. I'll reveal more at a later date, I hope.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Make do and Mend cushion- in print!

Way back in the summer I started using up some odds and ends of Rowan Felted Tweed DK to make a cushion cover. I wanted the chance to try out some stitch patterns from a lovely old World War II book I had and I posted some of the pics on this blog.

Who would have thought that an idle wander through the Ravelry forums would lead me to stumble across a call for submissions for a new knitting magazine. My cushion idea seemed like the sort of thing they were after- picking up on trends (vintage/mid century interiors) and portable (the front is a patchwork of squares that make good 'take along' projects).

With nothing to lose, I drew my sketch, wrote my proposal, scanned some samples (which don't exactly look promising do they? Imagination was needed evidently!) and waited. Next thing I knew the email came to say 'yes please' and there I was with my first commission. So today I went into one of my local supermarkets (here, in the back of beyond!) and bought a copy of 'Knit Now' magazine with my very own pattern in it. More (very lovely) pics are on Ravelry here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More Knit, less Natter

So here I am, back again. In the moments during my break when I would normally have been blogging I was thinking about what I wanted Audrey's Tea Shop to be from hereon in. When I began it I was a mother of a one-and-a-half year old, recently uprooted and relocated to Cumbria and still in a whirl of disorientation and shock at being a long way from family and friends, and suddenly without the job I loved. The blog proved a great way for me to focus on all the positives of full-time parenting and living in this lovely part of the country and probably even encouraged me to do more as I was writing about it.
Today that toddler is big enough to be at Nursery school and his little sister is now one-and-a-half. While I still don't have much in the way of work our daily routine has picked up in pace and I don't have the same time to spend doing or writing about the stuff I have before. In addition, I have to admit to finding myself at times missing the chance to be part of the moment for the sake of getting a photo to share on the blog. Meanwhile, over the last few months, I've found certain aspects of my creative work taking greater precedence- in particular knitting and knitting pattern design.
For these reasons I've decided to keep writing for Audrey's Tea Shop, but to shift the emphasis onto knitting. I hope to share what I'm designing and making, who and what is inspiring me and other knitty bits and pieces. I might not write as frequently as I have in the past but hopefully the quality will be higher. I'm also planning to post the occasional free pattern and host some giveaways.
In the meantime, I'm off to cast on...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Whether it's the traditions of Samhain or Harvest Festival, this a traditional time of year for taking stock, working out what to store away for later and what to be rid of. Something of this spirit has taken hold with me as well, and I've decided that rather than keep on with what has recently rather sporadic blogging, I'm going to take a little break and decide a new and improved form in which to continue. I doubt it will be long before I'm back, but hopefully when I am it will be with renewed purpose. Bye for now!

Friday, September 23, 2011

For him and her

It's been a big week this week, as our not-so-little-anymore boy began at nursery school. He's been so ready for it for such a long time that I haven't really felt any sadness at the fact that my little companion through all the ups and downs of the last few years won't be at my side anymore, since his mornings will now be a world apart from me. I did want a little bit of mummy-love to go with him to school though, so I made him a couple of pairs of these Oliver + S 'Sketchbook' shorts as part of his uniform. As he's the kind of child who would happily wear shorts whatever the weather they should get a fair bit of wear, and it really shows how adaptable this pattern is- in the bengaline these are made of they have a totally different look to the cotton print ones I made at the start of the summer.
Meanwhile, over in the ever-busy knitting corner, I found myself with two lovely skeins of Manos Wool Clasica left over once I finished my Queen Bess sweater (see previous post) and it just seemed criminal not to use them. A friend then recommended this Milo pattern and wouldn't you know it? I had just enough yarn to make this little winter warmer for M. The pattern is a great example of well-written, well-designed simplicity and it's got enough growing room that she should get plenty of wear out of it- some colder autumnal days recently have meant it's already had an outing or two. Getting a photo of someone who has recently very much found her feet and likes to run everywhere is another issue altogether.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Endless Knitting

I've been really lax at blogging recently, mainly because I've not yet learned to knit and type. Every spare minute seems to have been spent with the sticks and string, I'm a woman possessed! It began with a drive to begin making new stock for a slightly new direction for my Folksy shop, of which more soon. I interspersed this with work on my grown-up version of Queen Bess and was then interrupted by news of the birth of a son for one of my best friends. Of course that called for a knitted gift and my old favourite, Debbie Bliss' Teddy Bear from Simply Baby came out beautifully in dark brown, even if the photo doesn't do it justice.
Once I've woven in ends on Queen Bess and blocked it, work will begin on sizing and writing up the pattern, ready for test knitting. I find that brain-hurting work, but do love the idea of sharing my designs so needs must. On that subject, while all this knitting has been going on I've been fielding emails from the test knitters on my Coniston Sweater and I think I'm nearly there. My first 'for sale' pattern- exciting stuff!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Handmade with Love

If you've ever made something by hand as a gift, and cursed over the tricky bits, wondering if it will even be appreciated or worn, then take heart from this:

As this beautiful little smock dress was originally made by my aunt for my older sister, over 30 years ago, and worn by her, then me, then my younger sister, by my reckoning M is the fourth one to wear it.

Not only has all that careful hand-smocking survived years of wearing, washing and subsequent storage, but it's now once again destined to be a often worn, much loved addition to a little girl's wardrobe

Both my children are very fortunate in having family members and friends who make them lovely things, just as I was. P starts at a school-based nursery later this month and I wanted him to have a school bag to mark the occasion. As my time was pressed but my mum said she was 'between projects' I asked her if she could make the Messenger Bag from Oliver + S 'Little Things to Sew' (sorry, tried to add a link here but it didn't work out).

She could and she did. The combination of Liesl Gibson's attention to detail with curves and binding and inner pockets, with mum's attention to detail in choosing a plain, hardwearing denim outer and combining it with a brightly patterned lining, and leaving off fastenings so it's easier for P to get into means that this is going to be another much loved, much used item.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Back from a break...and yet more colour

After all the late night knitting to get 'Make Do and Mend' finished and posted to deadline, a huge amount of washing so that for once we didn't go on holiday with bags full of damp clothes to be dried once we arrive and usual craziness of getting our little family on the road, we had a more-or-less blissful week in Lyme Regis with beloved parents/grandparents and my sister.

The sun shone (mostly), the views were like a children's story book, much sand was dug, much ice-cream eaten and a good time was had by all.

I did manage to find a fossil on Charmouth beach, a tiny ammonite which I packed somewhere safe that I now can't recall (no, I haven't got around to unpacking everything yet!) and as always found that profound sense of peace and happiness that comes from being on the shore. It never ceases to amaze me how nature puts together colours in a way that we can never really reproduce, like these beautifully smooth stones.

However, all those natural colours haven't completely won me over and my quest for colour continues. I know I should have brought back something local, but a shop called 'Siciliana' in Lyme Regis caught my eye- I wonder why?! The owner sources and imports ceramics from a number of family producers in Sicily and his shop is a mouthwatering feast of colour. This little jug and bowl are destined to be a toothbrush holder and soapdish in the colour-saturated bathroom I'm planning. We can't afford a complete re-do, so I'm thinking that the absence of cool, sophisticated newness is a good excuse for crazy, mismatched loveliness. Just add that project to the endless list...

Long journeys (including the trip back, all seven hours of it, in the cab of the transporter with our car on the back, said car having conked out on day 2, eek!) and leisurely evenings as our salt-crusted children slept off their days of running about on the sand meant that I really got cracking on some knitting. After all the itty-bitty work with DK the other week, it was lovely to get back to Artesano Aran and Manos Del Uraguay Wool Clasica, chunkier needles and quicker growth. I finished the vibrant blue/purple Artesano project and, despite patchy reception for recieving emails on my phone, recieved yet more exciting news about the design. Once again, watch this space. Big Queen Bess, the Manos project, is going really well too. Not only am I onto sleeves, but I've tried it on once or twice (and had to be helped out of it by willing, and laughing, volunteers so that I didn't drop all the stitches from the circular needle that was still in it) and I'm pleased with how it looks. Best of all, given my previous record, I actually think I've ordered enough wool to finish the project! I almost don't dare say it, but I think I'll be able to finish it without desperate shout outs on Ravelry for the last few metres to finish a sleeve. Wonders will never cease. Hopefully pics will follow soon.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Make Do and Mend Cushion

What was originally an in-betweeny project using up odds and ends has become something altogether more exciting and with a deadline attached. I won't say much more now as, apart from anything else, every spare moment is being spent knitting and I have the stiff fingers and blurry eyes to prove it. Best get back to it...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Colour #3

Despite being in the midst of decorating our bedroom, which will take a hideous combination of eye-hurting yellow, mushroom brown and sickly pink back to a much more muted and soft pallette, bright colour is still very much my inspiration in other areas.
I'm currently working on a design for a snood, rather like the one I made for my sister a couple of years ago. That one got a lot of love on Ravelry, but I couldn't release the design as I lifted the cabling patterns more or less straight from a Rowan magazine design. This one is more my own work, resulting in rather a lot of redesigns (I think we're on attempt number four now, which is lookin good thankfully). The yarn is Artesano Aran, which I got on sale price at the gorgeous Meadow Yarn. The colour is described as petrol blue, but in real life it's more of a deep, vivid purple, rather like the colour of a certain much-loved chocolate brand wrapper... As you can see, photographs show it differently depending on the light and the shot, but however you see it, it's bright and beautiful.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Charity shopping is great, but there's something about the US term 'Thrifting' that I prefer. Maybe it's because it reflects more of the reasoning behind it on behalf of the shopper- I'm happy to be supporting the charity, but equally happy to be finding useful stuff for us at a low cost. Today's finds- the results of a sneaky child-free half hour in town following an eye test- also included the additional joy of second-hand shopping, something that probably wouldn't be found new. We used to have one of these crank-handle graters, acquired when my Grandma cleared out her kitchen, and it went some way to alleviate my hatred of grating (don't ask, it's not rational!). Plus, once assembled, the blades are out of the reach of little fingers so it allowed P to join in with cooking. Sadly, that one got broken through some over-zealous drawer closing on C's part, which is why I was delighted to see this apparently unused and boxed replacement, with not one but three grating options! With what I'm fairly sure is an Ikea tablecloth and six matching napkins my total spend was less than £5- happy days!

Friday, August 12, 2011

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember. Inspired by SouleMama.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Introducing the Coniston Sweater...

...and the world's grumpiest knitwear model!

This sweater has had several incarnations before I finally got to this version, however the inspiration has remained the same- Coniston Water, for which it is named. It's a place we like to go in all weathers, within easy reach of our house, but with less of the tourist crowds and Beatrix Potter/fleece jacket and walking boots/William Wordsworth overload of Windermere (where these pictures were actually shot- it's not as appropriate I know, but sometimes you have to grab an opportunity).
Sometimes when we drive up the lake road the water is so still that the fells are perfectly reflected in it like a mirror. It's so strikingly beautiful there have been times I've had to remind myself to drive the car instead of being mesmerised by the view. Those reflections, of steely grey clouds, of rocks that shoulder their way through the turf at the side of the road, of slate drystone walls, of moss and dark green forests are all there in the converging, alternately smooth and textured stripes of Rowan Renew- the shade colours are, appropriately enough for my boy, 'Digger' and 'Truck'.
The still flatness of Coniston is also the reason it was where Donald Campbell set the world water speed records that eventually ended in tragedy. Speed on the water is a lot more restricted now, but I thought that it was fitting that the stripes on the sweater also reminded me of those found on diagrams of the Doppler Effect, where the lines showing sound waves get closer together as an object moves past at speed. By the way, I'm not that much of geek (at least not when it comes to Physics!) but fellow Big Bang Theory fans might recognise this episode.

Theories and inspirations aside, the sweater is mainly meant to be a warm, comfortable layer for days out exploring the beauty of the outside world. My model is a very discerning customer and it says quite a lot that the sweater even stayed on him long enough for these shots to be taken- if he really hated it, it would have been dragged off over his head without a thought for all those hours of loving mama-making. No, the grumpiness was down to the fact that it was far too hot for a sweater, as far as my little fashionista was concerned, and that the only bribe I had on me for this brief episode of cooperation was a rice-cake. A favourite snack, granted, but not really what counts as a 'treat'...

I only grabbed these pictures so that I could get on with getting this pattern tested, as all being well this is going to be an early venture into selling my designs. On that front, I've had some very exciting news recently regarding another project, but I'll have to wait to share it. In the meantime, I'm going to wait until the inevitable turning of the year and the cooler weather that might just make this reluctant wearer a little bit more appreciative.